The transportation sector continues to evolve as governments look to operate more efficiently and travelers expect smoother, faster journeys. One area of innovation has focused on digitizing highway tolling systems and individual mobility applications to reduce backups and delays at bridges, tunnels, and highway entrances and improve customer experience.
ETC, a tolling technology provider, has helped many states across the U.S., including California, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and Louisiana, modernize how they collect tolls and keep traffic moving. The company has provided these services for more than two decades and had initially run its own IT on-premises. However, ETC recognized that by moving its infrastructure to the cloud, it could derive much more value from the massive amounts of data it collects.
“We collect an incredible amount of video and images from highways,” says Joshua LittleSun, Director of Roadside Technology at ETC. “Within our previous IT environment, there was no way to cost-effectively capture and manage all this content we have today, especially as we started serving more states. In addition, running everything on-prem inhibited many of our data management and analytics goals.”
To overcome the challenges, ETC chose to work with Google Cloud and Google Cloud Premier Partner DoiT International. The focus was to migrate ETC’s data warehouse from on-prem to the cloud to reduce storage expenditures and unleash opportunities to perform powerful analytics.
ETC had a wealth of institutional knowledge of on-prem IT and managing databases, but recognized that it needed a partner specializing in cloud infrastructure and management.
“Google Cloud was extremely easy to get up and running on. We paid for the services and quickly started experimenting with all we wanted to do,” says Joshua. “At the same time, we knew we needed more technical support to really take advantage of the cloud’s power, so we chose to work with DoiT.”
Moving from a traditional on-prem IT stack to a more advanced cloud environment can come with growing pains, but DoiT stepped in to help ETC avoid them. Working with ETC, DoiT supported engineers and other IT staff as they navigated new environments, as well as educated ETC decision makers on native capabilities in the cloud to accelerate the shift.
DoiT provided expert guidance throughout the process of standing up new identity and access management (IAM) protocols to support the new cloud-based IT systems. ETC wanted to update its security strategy and structure its IT environment to take advantage of the new tools.
“DoiT got our IAM strategy into an advanced position faster than we could possibly imagine,” says Joshua.
DoiT also helped ETC adopt Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), enabling the company to complete implementations of new tolling systems faster. ETC had not had previous experience deploying in Kubernetes production environments, but DoiT offered the guidance to adopt GKE quickly.
“With the power of GKE and DoiT, we can quickly deploy and transform the roadside infrastructure. We have the flexibility and agility to increase pace and time to market,” says Joshua.
ETC has built on the positive experiences with DoiT and utilizes a wider range of Google Cloud solutions across its IT environment. The company’s approach to data management has been completely transformed by BigQuery, Google Cloud Storage, and Cloud SQL, allowing ETC to efficiently collect, store, and process images of vehicles and other data for tolling and smart mobility purposes.
“Our customers are thrilled to have easier access to their data through Google Cloud than would have been possible with legacy on-prem storage environments,” says Joshua. “Uptime and availability have been exceptional post-migration, and our data retention capabilities have been a real game changer in how we serve customers.”
GKE and Cloud Load Balancing have also helped ETC to set up new environments to test new concepts and prototypes in a fraction of the time previously possible. Before migrating to Google Cloud, ten ETC employees had to spend three or four days standing up a new environment. Now, just two employees can complete the task in only three days.
DoiT helped ETC get through the process of migrating to GKE. Today the company can replicate environments through Kubernetes, saving time and eliminating bottlenecks as more projects are completed.
“Standing up new environments and scaling existing ones is so much faster and easier now that we’re all in on GKE,” says Joshua. “All of this translates into ETC being able to provide tolling systems to more state and local agencies and commercial operators, with greater speed and fewer roadblocks.”
ETC continues to use DoiT support to get even more out of Google Cloud. In addition to engineering support and technical guidance, ETC also leverages cost optimization tools from DoiT to continue consolidating its IT infrastructure and become progressively more efficient.
The company also enjoys improved integration between its infrastructure management team and developers in this new framework. This new IT approach helps ETC to think bigger, as it considers eliminating on-prem servers and shifting more to the cloud and tapping into more Google Cloud IoT services, as well as Cloud Run and Cloud Functions.
The company is also exploring moving to Anthos to continue modernizing applications while maintaining a strong level of agility across its entire IT stack. This will put ETC in a strong position to further modernize the edge infrastructure it has on its roadside systems today.
“It’s night and day if you look at the old ways of doing business using only an on-prem setup versus moving to the cloud,” says Joshua. “Google Cloud and DoiT have enabled us to meet and even exceed many of our IT transformation goals. Partnering has allowed us to quickly architect and deploy a modern roadside infrastructure, providing the flexibility and agility our customers need. We are confident that the best is yet to come.”